Former women’s doubles world #2 Jung Kyung Eun has posted a petition challenging what she calls a suspicious and unfair selection process for the national doubles badminton squad.
Jung Kyung Eun (pictured top) explained her grievance in the National Petition section of the website for Cheong Wa Dae, the Korean presidential residence also known as the ‘Blue House’. In the text accompanying the petition, she points to a lack of fairness and transparency in the process, which saw her dropped from the national badminton team for the second time since she first made the team 12 years ago.
Among the points she raises is the fact that 3 members of the selection committee were coaches of domestic teams whose members were trying out for the national team. In fact, the Head Coach of her former pro team, the Korea Ginseng Company (KGC) was on the committee, which ended up choosing 5 players. The only one with no previous national team experience was a KGC player.
Incidentally, current national team coaches were also on the selection committee but the only two national team coaches who currently also hold positions on domestic pro teams – including a singles coach from Jung’s own team – were in Bangkok and were not involved in the national team tryouts this year.
Jung pointed to a selection process which was quite subjective for doubles players, involving 50% from a round robin competition and 50% based on evaluations by the committee. Jung says she had 9 wins and 4 losses in the competition but that one of the successful applicants won only half of her matches.
Jung Kyung Eun’s partner Baek Ha Na (pictured left) was successful in the national team tryout process, ranking 3rd among the 5 chosen, according to the January 26th press release. 7 other female doubles players were chosen based on the basis of their world ranking putting them in Olympic contention. This includes Chang Ye Na and Kim Hye Rin, who are expected to move into the top 8 once the Olympic race standings are changed to reflect the retirement of current #6 Ayaka Takahashi. BWF rules stipulate that one nation can only send two doubles pairs to the Olympic Games if both are ranked within the top 8 at the end of the qualifying period.
In addition to expressing her wish that future national team candidates are not wronged by a system that is not sufficiently fair or transparent, Jung Kyung Eun points out that she, too, is technically still in the Olympic race. Jung and Baek Ha Na are currently 2130 points behind Chang/Kim but they are more than 18,000 points behind Kim So Yeong / Kong Hee Yong, who are currently the second-ranked Koreans. Both Jung and the 20-year-old Baek will be out of the race if Jung is not allowed to compete as a member of the national team.
In 2019, Baek and Jung won the Denmark Open Super 750, along with the Syed Modi Super 300 and two Super 100 events, then they reached the final of the Thailand Masters shortly before the Covid-19 pandemic struck. Late last year, Jung Kyung Eun picked up two national titles in a pairing with Chang Ye Na, who is on the same domestic pro team.
This is the second time a controversial turn of events has resulted in Jung Kyung Eun being off the national team. Jung was among the 8 women’s doubles players disqualified from the London Olympics in 2012, and unlike the BWF other two associations involved, the Badminton Korea Association (BKA) took it upon itself to heap additional punishment onto the four Korean players, ending the careers of two of them. Jung’s sentence was later commuted but she still four months of competition and national team compensation.
Of course, the BKA finding itself in the news for the wrong reasons is almost an annual occurrence. In recent years, the association’s policies toward independent players have come under fire and in 2018, there were issues concerning the team’s main sponsor and firing of its entire coaching staff. Last year, the BKA suspended its star doubles player from the national team over a dispute related to recruitment efforts by two pro teams, one of which was led by the then national team head coach, who has since been replaced. Jung Kyung Eun’s petition, too, has earned reports in the major newspapers and agencies.
The Moon Jae-in government is committed to responding to petitions that garner 200,000 supporters in 30 days. So far, Jung Kyung Eun’s petition has been supported by more than 14,000 people in the first 5 days.